AN EARTHQUAKE has shook the Greek capital of Athens, with witnesses reporting people fleeing from buildings in panic.
The 5.3 magnitude quake struck 22 km (14 miles) northwest of the city at 2.13pm local time. Describing the chaos that ensued following the impact, one witness told the European Earthquake Monitoring Centre the earthquake was strong but fortunately not very long. Another witness said Athens metro system had been evacuated following the extreme shock.
Hundreds of worried people have crammed into the citys central Syntagma Square.
Explaining why the earthquake had been felt so heavily, seismologist Manolis Skordilis told Greeces Star TV: The earthquake was close to the surface, which is why it was felt so
It is too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, but there have been aftershocks of magnitude 3.5, 2.5 and 3.2 and that is encouraging. But we need more time and data to have a clear picture.
The natural phenomenon has caused powercuts in parts of Athens and the fire brigade said they had recieved multiple calls about people trapped in lifts.
However, there are currently no reports of injuries or major damage.
Venetia Rainey, a journalist based in Greece, said:
I noticed the flat vibrating slightly but thought it was just the building works outside.
Then after 10 seconds the whole building moved and the walls shook from side to side for about 10 seconds again.
I ran to the balcony to see and saw lots of people in the street on their phones, a car alarm was going off.
The quake is thought to be the first to have struck the Greek capital since 1999, when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck at the bottom of Mount Parnitha.
On that occasion 143 people were killed by Greeces deadliest natural disaster in almost half a centruy.
A further 1,600 were treated for injuries.